CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama ordered two departments yesterday to proceed with re-blocking a fire scene in Sitio Mansanitas, Barangay Cogon Pardo, where nearly 150 families lost their homes last Sunday.
“The City would not be a competent local government unit if we will just allow the residents to go back without re-blocking,” he said. He gave the order to the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) and the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW).
City Administrator Lucelle Mercado said that at least two private individuals claimed to own the lots where the houses used to stand.
But even if the lots are privately owned, City Hall will still re-block these to widen the roads.
“In the exercise of police power, the City Government has to come in. We don’t have to wait for death or further property damage,” Rama said.
Based on the updated count of the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), 58 houses were destroyed and 148 families or 598 individuals were left homeless by the fire that broke out last Sunday afternoon.
The fire department sent an invitation yesterday to the owner of a woodcraft shop in Sitio Mansanitas, as part of efforts to find out where and how the fire started.
SFO3 Pier Angelo Abellana, fire investigator of the Pardo Fire Substation, said the owner is scheduled to appear in their office today.
A witness whom Abellana interviewed revealed that the fire started in the shop, which is adjacent to an electrical post. He will also be called today to execute an affidavit.
Faulty wiring is being looked into as a possible cause of the fire.
At City Hall, Rama asked Mercado to oversee the City’s response to the fire.
“We are currently in negotiations with the private owners and as an initial outcome, they committed to allow these families to go back to their places,” Mercado said.
However, the re-blocking will mean smaller lots, because the priority is to widen the access roads, so that emergency vehicles like fire trucks can reach interior portions more quickly.
The re-blocking is also for the general welfare, Rama pointed out, because it will provide the families a safer place to live.
DSWS Chief Ester Concha said her department is still processing the release of the P10,000 financial assistance that will be distributed to each family.
She assured, though, that it will be given this week.
The families who belong to the Villa Mansanitas Homeowners’ Association reportedly tried to negotiate before for the sale of the lots to its occupants. This was eventually referred to City Hall’s DWUP.
“A price was already offered to the homeowners but they asked us to help,” said DWUP Chief Collin Rosell.
Rosell said that structure owners will be accommodated first in the re-blocking.
“But if there are vacant spaces, we will see if we can accommodate the renters but it will be subject to evaluation and deliberation,” he added.